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Samsung inches closer to making SSDs more mainstream

When it comes to storage technology on computers, hard drive technology has advanced the slowest as far as performance is concerned. Companies like Samsung are looking to Flash Solid State Disks (SSDs) to replace the spinning disk and reduce loading times for applications.

SSDs have the advantage of rapid response times without having to wait for a hard drive to spin up/seek and have drastically reduced power consumption compared to traditional hard drives. SSDs use zero watts when not being accessed, and as little as 200 milliwatts during read/write activities.

Given the lower power requirements, company’s like Sony and Fujitsu are looking to Samsung to provide SSDs for their mobile computers. Samsung also uses its SSD drives on the Q30 notebook and Q1 UMPC.

Samsung announced today that it has produced samples of the world's first 16Gb NAND flash memory device built on a 50 nanometer process. The multi-level cell (MLC) design uses a 4KB page size instead of the 2KB used in competing designs. As a result, read speeds are double that of 2KB designs while write speeds are increased by 150%.

The increased storage capacity and faster write speeds will help Samsung reach its goal of producing 128GB SSDs by the first half of 2008.

Samsung will begin mass production its new MLC 16Gb NAND flash memory chips in Q1 2007.

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It's way to early to call this flash a SSD flash...
By fc1204 on 1/4/2007 3:47:01 AM , Rating: 2
A little information on current NAND flash and why consumer SSD is at best in its conception.

This is basically a Samsung Press Release of their 16Gb MLC part. Like CPUs, flash can be packaged differently with multi-die packaging so the capacity of a Flash chip can reach up to 64Gb (quad-die packaging, QDP for short)

Now the price of flash memory can be tracked on dramexchange(dot)com for those of you interested in figuring out the current cost of a SSD- just remember flash is dealt in bits so remember to do the bit/byte conversion.

Now SSD is still an expensive toy, but as the cost of flash is halved every year (kind of like Moore's law) we can imagine having a 32GB SSD for our laptops to run the most used programs to save on time(data seek and access) and power consumption(less HDD use) which means this will help with people needing for over 3 hours of mobile computing without extra batteries and having to shutdown and wait for the reboot.

32GB will cost you about $600 so it's only for enterprise, industrial and other power sensitive applications like data recorder in space modules. But with this flash, we are seeing the density double in 6 months which means Samsung is really pushing hard to lower that $600 to $300 this year and $150 next year meaning more platforms will start to adopt this solution.

Unfortunately, this is a MLC flash which has a 1/10 of the endurance of SLC flash and 1/5 the write performance of the SLC parts. So I am not really sure Samsung is doing this potential market any favor with the release of this part and calling it flash for the SSDs.

Anyways, I would wait for their 4KB/page SLC part to come out which will have better performance and the same 100,000 write cycles per memory block endurance that all current SSD applications use. Then of course there is the cost, the only knock on SLC flash which has a price tag that is about 50% more than MLC flash of the same density.

I am not even going to start on the interface issues (PATA, SATA, PCI-E, CF, SD...) and the SSD controllers...

By dluther on 1/4/2007 8:19:35 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, the controllers are a very interesting aspect that nobody seems to have touched on yet.

As some have pointed out, the chips can be housed in a standard 1.8", 2.5" or even a 3.5" form factor. As someone pointed out, the chips would be arranged in an 8 or 9 chip array to create MBytes out of Mbits, and can be stacked several layers deep, thus yielding different configurations in multiples of 16GB, probably up to 128GB in the notebook configurations.

Now, here's where things get interesting: the interface hardware has to look, act, and respond like a hard drive. In other words, the SATA/EIDE interface will see a "hard drive", and the internal interface will translate sectors into pages, etc... That's going to be a bit of additional expense, but minimal.

By MadAd on 1/7/2007 3:09:06 PM , Rating: 2
Why do we have to stick to the 3.5" form factor anyway?

They look like a chip, why not make banks of it and plug it directly into the motherboard? Its original at least.

These obviously will shrink in size while doubling in capacity as time progreses and I cant help but think that having every increasing amounts of storage that close to the processor could open up new usage patterns.

I mean ideally, we wouldnt have seperate memory, just one storage interface that works at the speed of the processor and while thats a way off yet based on todays announcement, its all a step in the right direction.

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